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Oil! I found oil!


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Couldn't wait for show off, so technically a work in progress 😇


I used Mr. Magician here to finally try oil washing. The oil wash was more of a "meh", but then I tried some shading and highlighting with oils. Haven't had that much fun in a long time! There's a long road ahead, but a very promising one.




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I absolutely love to share all that I know, so this is going to be a long post. You've been warned 😇. I'll spoiler the sections for readability.




There are basically two routes you can follow. James Wappel's way is probably known best. He thins his oils before using them. I prefer the other way: Using the paint straight out of the tube (more or less).

There is a russian guy who has posted an absolute brilliant video on youtube. I don't know him, but he must be an absolute legend. This is my absolute favourite video and the one that started it all: here.

All questions still open were answered by Marco Frisoni: here. He has other videos about oil paint but this one is really beginner friendly.




For paints I used Schmincke Norma. This is high grade, expensive oil paint. But it will last forever. The paints are really smooth, unbelievably highly pigmented, crazy lightfast and have a richness to them I've never found in miniature paint. The reason for the latter is, that they use expensive pigments, some of which are toxic. So no brush licking! And dispose of the waste responsibly. I just love the cadmium red, though...

I wouldn't recommend student grade paint like W&N Winton or the like. Go for the real stuff. Artist grade. You don't need many colours because you'll be mixing a lot. And buy small tubes. They'll still last forever.


For brushes you'll need synthetics. There will be no delicate brushstrokes. Instead you'll push the paint around on the mini like peanut butter on a sandwich. So just get a few synthetic brushes. It helps to have different shapes. No sable hair or watercolour brushes, they won't survive a single painting session.


Also, you need thinner. I use the odourless Diluent N, also by Schmincke. Although drying accelerator is recommended by a lot of sources I found no use for it. The paint layer is very thin, it will cure in a few days (oil paint does not dry, it cures).




First step is acryIics. Oils can be very translucent so you've got to put a base coat down. And acrylics are best for that. I used zenithal priming but it didn't make any difference, because of my heavy basecoat. I used mostly Reaper MSPs for this step. 




After I painted over all the mistakes and had a clean basecoat I painted the eyes and the writing in the book with acrylic ink. Since you can't paint acrylics over oil (or so I've heard) and I didn't feel comfortable to paint the details in oils I figured I might as well get it done at this stage.


I followed up with a coat of varnish. I used a rattle can: Sennelier Matte Varnish. It said "suitable for acrylics AND oil" so it looked like a safe bet. Some sources say you don't have to varnish before starting with oils. But I'm messing around with thinner in the next stage, I'm not taking any chances.




I mixed up a warm black with burnt umber and cobalt blue hue and added thinner. Then I washed the whole mini. Didn't work too well, because my wash was too thin. Also I waited too long to remove the wash with thinner and q-tips. Either the wash would come off completely or not at all. There was no in between. And the q-tips left behind a lot of lint, which was really annoying.




I repeated the oil wash. This time I used less thinner. Then I waited just a few minutes before removing the excess wash with a brush. I dampened the brush with a bit of thinner and used it just like a drybrush to clean up the raised areas. This time the results were better but it was not the miracle I expected after all those Youtube videos (Ninjon, Miniac, I'm looking at you). Just a wash, not unlike my Army Painter Washes (which I really like, by the way).




And this is where the magic happened, at least for me. I mixed up some colours that were similar to my basecoat colours. I didn't have a perfect match and I think it was even better that way. From there I mixed shadow and highlight colours. Then I painted the cloth, the beard, the hat and the fur of the rat with shadows and highlights. In between I made a phone call. No need to rush.


I used two brushes. One for applying paint, the other one for blending. I took care that the blending brush was clean whenever I switched colours. Basically how Marco Frisoni showed in his video. The moment I applied the cadmium red, the red coat really began to shine. I added some yellow and ochre for highlights and blended that in. Really nice!


For the grey I mixed a cold black out of burnt umbra and cobalt blue hue. I added black and a touch of white for shadows and just white for highlights. You can see it  best on the hat of the wizard. Never before have I blended so quick and effortless. 




Cleaning was easy. I rinsed the brushes in the thinner I had left from painting (I just used maybe half a shot glass if not less for the whole painting session). After that I washed the brushes with brush soap. Et voilà - done.


Apparently you can recycle your thinner. Put the used thinner in a glass with a tight lid (because fumes...). The pigment will settle on the bottom and you can decant and reuse the thinner. Haven't tried it yet, but I definitely will!


So, that's how it happened. Hope it helps. Here's another pic of Mr. Magician:


Edited by Samedi
The student grade oil paint by W&N is called Winton, not Cotman. Cotman would be the water colours.
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Thanks for explaining your journey. I got started painting model kits with Testors oils, didn't like the clean up or fumes. So when I found acrylics when I got into mini painting I haven't looked back but I have always thought about trying oils again for the long drying time to get blends right. I probably won't pick up oils again because I'm that lazy & cheap, but I will live vicariously through you. 🙂

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